WINTER IS COMING! The Game of Thrones student panto you should be attending this week.
An interview with the director, Susanna Jones.
Kings and Queens and White Walkers, oh my! Have you been waiting for a chance to relive your childhood? This Wednesday is the perfect opportunity for a little nostalgia, thrown in with a modern pop-culture phenomenon, all in aid of the wonderful Norwich Nightline.
A twist on the well-known Game of Thrones narrative, villains become heroes and all bets are off, as these notorious characters are re-visited in pantomime form.
Written, directed and performed by students, the production will be full of lots of laughter and hopefully less blood and guts than the TV show. If you are a Game of Thrones virgin like me, don't worry, it has something for everyone! Even the director, Susanna Jones, also a prominent member of UEA Headlights, hadn't watched or read the much hyped about TV show or books before she took on the project. Last week I picked her brain on what it's been like to be a part of this student creation…
Can you give us a summary of the performance?
"It’s loosely based on season one of Game of Thrones, but ‘loosely’ is the operative word: it’s written from Joffrey’s perspective so Joffrey is a lovable hero and Ned Stark is a cackling panto villain"
How are the cast and crew feeling before the big day?
"I think the cast and crew are feeling a mixture of nervous and excited! Both me and our leading lady, Nov, were quite stressed earlier this week about how little time we had til the performance, but then we had a fantastic rehearsal on Thursday where we got a live pianist to accompany us for the first time, and suddenly it felt like everything was going to come together. So personally I’m getting really excited now, it’s like the run-up to Christmas."
What were the main challenges with adapting Game of Thrones to panto form (though I guess that's more of a question for the writers)?
"Obviously I’m not one of the writers (Sam Went and Charlie Humphries), but apparently a big challenge in turning GoT into a pantomime was working out who would be the villain, the dame and the principle couple. Eventually Sam and Charlie had the light-bulb moment that if they wrote it from Joffrey’s perspective, characters didn’t have to be true to the show so choosing a hero and a villain was easy. There were also some arguments in the writer’s room: Charlie wanted Cersei to be a friendly dame while Sam wanted her to be a monster. Charlie wanted Littlefinger to be true to the show whereas Sam wanted to make him a comedy sidekick to the villain. I think they’ve found the best solutions in the end- but you’ll have to watch the show to find out!"
What was your favourite part of directing?
"Watching the production come together. Over the weeks the actors have really grown into their parts, and it’s exciting watching the scenes improve each time they’re run. Blocking (choreographing) a new scene is particularly exciting as you see a big difference between the start and the end of the rehearsal."
Susanna goes on to say:
"Directing it has been a challenge as I’ve never directed anything before, so it’s been a big learning curve! Luckily the cast have been very easy to work with. I’ve enjoyed doing the musical director side of things as music is more my comfort zone. But I know the style of the scriptwriters from our time in Headlights comedy society together, so I have a good idea of their vision and how to bring it to life."
Describe the panto in three words?
"Daft, surreal, fun."
The cast have been working hard on the production for about 9 weeks now, and will no doubt see their efforts paying off on Wednesday. Susanna's passion for the project, and admiration for her panto peers is clear as I talk to her:
"It’s a really great script and cast, I can’t wait to see it all pay off. We’ve all been blown away by how many tickets have been sold: this started off as a drunken idea between a small group of friends and somehow we’ve sold over 100 tickets now! I think our meme maker Mustafa has a lot to answer for."
If only all drunken ideas could have an outcome as good as this!
Get your tickets to see a comedic retelling of everyone's favourite TV show here
Check out the panto's memorable memes on their event Facebook page: